Ok the Office of National Statistics has performed a survey and would like to let us know that only 1.5% of the UK population is Gay, Lesbian or Bisexual (725,000 people).
Queue the right wingers screaming about all the fuss about such a small number of people. They’ve been yelling about how we’ve been inflating our numbers, lying blah blah blah, hysterics, screaming meemies hateful flouncing etc.
Now, my first point is – so? Does it really matter how few we are? Would it make the laws and protections less necessary, the bigotry less wrong? Is there a magic percentage we have to reach before the badness against us matters? It’s certainly not an idea I’d like to encourage – apart from anything else, per the census, there are several religious and ethnic groups that make up less than 1.5% of the population. This is a bad idea to encourage – a minority doesn’t need to make up a certain percentage of the population to be due respect and consideration.
So, yeah, I kind of put this all down as non-news and rolled my eyes at the right wingers using an extremely dodgy excuse for their hate mongering – except the statistic is so blatantly and obviously wrong and foolish.
The most obvious reason for the wrongness is the simple fact of the closet. Surely anyone with even an ounce of clueness would realise the problem of identifying a population that regularly hides? Yes, the closet exists. Yes, if you ask us “are you gay, lesbian or bisexual?” a lot of us will *gasp* LIE! Yes, there are stealth gays among you! MUAHAHAHAHA! And this especially applies to official looking types in suits knocking on your door or complete strangers calling you up on the phone. Such a question would be far better on an official census that is more acknowledged and known and is likely to rouse less suspicion (and doesn’t require a face to face or over the phone outing!) and encourage a more honest response (but even then I wouldn’t take it as 100% accurate by any stretch).
We can also look at the 3% here who didn’t answer. Chance of them being straight? Pretty damn low, straight people don’t usually need to hide their identity. The Box Turtle Bulletin goes into more detail why these statistics are questionable
It’s also especially dubious that the right wing sources have occasionally referred to this as the “non-heterosexual” population. It seems very unlikely that the ones who declined to say or who wrote other, while not identifying as GBL, identified as straight.
But just to really make the point. Gaydar and Gaydargirls (online dating sites for GBL folks) would like to point out that they have 2.2 million profiles from the UK Gaydar Radio alone has racked up 750,375 listeners.
Even saying a third of them are trolls/duplicates/whatever – that still leaves 2 profiles per GBL person and EVERY GBL person being registered.
Now, the Gaydars are very popular sites, that’s certainly so – but even the idea that the entire UK GBL population has a profile is a bit of a stretch. I imagine if they even reached half of us it would be beyond Gaydar’s wildest estimations.
Or, to put it another way, the ONS’ survey isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on.